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Elko City Hall

ELKO – A new proposed subdivision code is headed for Elko City Council action after the Elko Planning Commission voted Nov. 6 to recommend it for passage.

“It’s ready,” Planner Cathy Laughlin said in an interview Nov. 5, and she told planners the following day that “this has been a great process; lengthy but great.”

First reading will be at the council’s 4 p.m. meeting Nov. 13 at City Hall.

The revisions followed workshops involving city staff, developers, real estate agents and others interested in changes due to earlier controversy regarding bonding requirements for developers and additional concerns.

“Honestly, I think the new code is far better than the old code,” said developer Scott MacRitchie of Park City, Utah, who has several developments in Elko.

He said on Nov. 5 he and developer Robert Capps headed a group of developers, contractors and real estate brokers to look at the first proposed code revisions and then be part of the two workshops to help craft the final code.

“We came up with all the right solutions,” he told the Elko Daily Free Press. “We went line by line many times.”

MacRitchie said Laughlin was “wonderful to work with.” At the commission meeting he said he hadn’t expected the amount of cooperation developers received from city staff and planners that allowed developers “to have a real voice.”

Laughlin said two options on performance guarantees are outlined in the revised code. The first option allows developers to obtain preliminary map approval for a subdivision and develop the subdivision with their own funding and without posting a bond with the city.

With this option, a developer can’t record the final map and can’t sell lots until the work is finished and the map approved. The developer also can’t obtain building permits.

The second option is for the developer to receive map approval, bond for the total engineer’s estimate for the subdivision and then be able to sell lots while the work is under way. The developer could also receive building permits under this option.

“This gives the city and developers a lot of flexibility,” Laughlin told the planning commission. “We changed a lot.”

The flexibility includes offering the opportunity for developers who choose the first option in the beginning and start on their subdivisions to later go to the other option, post a bond and be able to start selling lots, she said.

The performance agreement for developers will be roughly the same as the current code, however, the agreement will specify that developers who bond can draw the bond down as they develop a subdivision. All developers will still need to post quality control assurances.

Laughlin outlined other revisions to the code in a memo to the Elko Planning Commission. These include changes putting requirements in chronological order, removing ambiguity, making it consistent with state statutes, detailing the timeline for submitting plans and for plan review, detailing requirements for building permits, creating a new appeals section, and stating that construction cannot begin before federal/state approval.

Putting the code in chronological order was “super helpful from my standpoint,” said Elko Planning Commission member Tera Hooiman.

Laughlin said the new code repeals and replaces the current code rather than simply revising it. The “divisions of land” title in place of the word “subdivisions” meets state statute.

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